It was three years ago that Rafael Montero made his MLB debut. That was on May 14, 2014 and it came against the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka, who would’ve started tonight had he not been placed on the DL on Saturday. A lot changes in three years.
The Yankees lineup that day: Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeria, Brian McCann, Alfonso Soriano, Yangervis Solarte, Brian Roberts and Tanaka.
The Mets lineup: Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Lucas Duda, Anthony Recker, Ruben Tejada and Montero.
The Yankees won 4-0, with Solarte and Teixeria homering. Tanaka pitched a complete game shutout on 114 pitches, improving to 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA in his first season in New York. Tanaka was the first Yankee rookie to begin 6-0 as a starter since Whitey Ford. Montero picked up the loss but it looked like the future was bright.
Now Tanaka is 8-10 with a 4.92 ERA, as he has made some solid starts but looks for consistency. Montero is 1-8 with a 6.06 ERA. Montero was supposed to be another ace, just as good as the other arms the Mets were bringing up, including Jacob deGrom who made his debut the day after Montero.
Tanaka lived up to his hype over his first three seasons, going 39-16 with a 3.12 ERA in 75 starts before struggling this season. Then there’s Montero, with a 2-13 career record and a 5.58 ERA. He’s going to make his 10th start of the season, something not foreseen when the team thought Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom and Matz would carry them this year. Because of the injuries, Terry Collins has little choice but to keep Montero in the rotation for now.
Tonight, Montero will have to trust his stuff with Rene Rivera guiding him behind the plate. “If you walk people here, you’re asking for big innings,” Collins said. “This is where you really have to trust your stuff and realize you’re gonna have to take your chances on swings as opposed to letting guys get on. This is a tough place to pitch.”
The Mets skipper feels Montero still can be successful. “This guy has pitched well. When he just trusts his stuff, he can pitch, he can get people out,” Collins said. “He has three quality pitches and he’s just gotta use them. Collins added that Montero has been hurt on 0-2 and 1-2 pitches, and that the young staff needs to remember that they can throw a set-up pitch ahead in the count.
Luis Cessa, looking for his first win of the season, gets the start for the Yankees tonight. Girardi said he’s expecting 85 pitches to be around the limit for the righty. “I expect him to go and compete at a high level,” Girardi said. “He’s been throwing the baseball really well.”